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SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

The names on the walls

29 Ketchikan facilities have been named after prominent people, families



June 27, 2016
Monday AM

Ketchikan, Alaska - One of the ways that a community honors its important people is by naming buildings and facilities after them.

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That allows the person's accomplishments to outlive them. Unfortunately, over time, we sometimes forgot who the buildings and facilities were named after. With that in mind, here are the stories of some of the people behind the names of Ketchikan's public facilities and buildings.

Norman R. Walker Field(s) - A former mayor of Ketchikan and a state legislator who was instrumental in the passage of the Alaska Civil Rights Act of 1946. Walker also donated the land on which the fields were built in the late 1930s when old tide flat ball fields in Thomas Basin were dredged to create the Thomas Basin boat harbor.

Esther Shea Field - The new turf soccer/football field at Fawn Mountain School was named in honor of the long time Native educator and matriarch of the Tongass Tribe.

Tom Friesen Field - The Valley Park ball field was named in honor of the long time Ketchikan City Councilman, sports announcer, coach and promoter of youth sports.

Bill Weiss Field(s) - The softball fields near Point Higgins Elementary School were named after a longtime promoter of youth sports in the community.

Drency Dudley Field(s) - The softball/soccer fields at Ketchikan High School were named after Drency and Lillian Dudley who not only supported youth sports for many years, but also donated the land for the Kayhi fields.

Harry Ludwigsen Concession Stand - The Little League Concession stand at Walker Field was named after the long time Little League promoter and umpire.

Grandma Hjorteset's Kitchen - Edna Hjorteset was a permanent fixture at baseball games at Walker Field for decades and was considered Ketchikan's number one sports fan. She ran the concessions at Senior League/Babe Ruth field for many years.

Ralph Peters Locker - The equipment building at Walker Field was named for the longtime Little League official, umpire and coach.

Bob Norton Indoor Facility - The Quonset hut at Walker Field was named after the city councilman and long-time local sports supporter.

Mead Building - The equipment house at Dudley Field is named after the Mead family which lived in the house for many years before it was purchased by the Borough.

R.E. "Bob" Ellis Ketchikan Terminal - The terminal at the Ketchikan Airport is named after Bob Ellis, the owner/operator of Ellis Airlines, the primary air service in Southeast Alaska and one of the regional airlines that became Alaska Airlines

Pat Wise Animal Shelter - Pat Wise was the longtime animal protection director for the Borough.

James B. Elkins Fire Station - Fire Station No. 8 was named after the long-time Borough Assembly member and former State Representative who helped get funding for the North Tongass Fire Department.

Ken Eichner II airport ferry - Eichner was the owner of Temsco Helicopters and one of the founders of the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad. The ferry is called II because it is the second airport ferry named after Eichner. Earlier ferries were also named after Bob Ellis and Dick Borch, the leader of the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad for many years

Oral Freeman airport ferry - Freeman was a former mayor and longtime state representative and one of the architects of the Permanent Fund and its dividend.

Craig Family Gym - The auxiliary gym at Ketchikan High School is named for the Craig family, whose members have been active in the local sports community for decades

Schoenbar Middle School - The area where the school is located is called the Schoenbar area in honor of the Schoenbar Mine which operated in the area and was owned by Col. John Schoenbar.

Houghtaling Elementary School - Bert Houghtaling was one of the longest serving members of the local school board and was a strong promoter of local education.

Bethe Substation - The substation near the corner of Tongass and Third Avenue was named after A.F. Bethe, a member of the 1935 Board of Control for Ketchikan Public Utilities.

Ted Ferry Civic Center - Ted Ferry was a longtime local businessman and a former mayor who promoted the development of the civic center.

Sivertsen Public Works Building - Named for O.M. "George" Sivertsen who worked for the city public works department for more than 40 years.

George Anderson Wastewater Treatment Plant - Anderson was a longtime city councilmember and promoter of the community water system.

Stensland Float - The Stensland family had a large farm on Gravina that supplied fresh food to the community for many years and often used the float in Thomas Basin.

Daly Float - The Daly family was prominent in the creation and operation of Ketchikan Spruce Mill.

Ryus Float – The Ryus Drug Store operated near the float for several decades in Ketchikan’s early years.

Betty King Alley - Betty King was a longtime resident of the alley and was known for her love of Ketchikan's stray animals. She was the founder of Ketchikan's first animal shelter.

Brostrom Water Division Warehouse - Named for Egon and Bud Brostrom, the father-son pair who ran the water division for half a century.

Casey Moran Harbor - Captain Casey Moran was a longtime leader in the local maritime industry. Most locals still refer to the Casey Moran Harbor as City Float which was its name for nearly a century.

Bailey Power Plant - S.W. Bailey was longtime local employee of Ketchikan Public Utilities and also served on many local boards and commissions.

Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium – The main high school gym was named after Cochrane a long-time high school teacher and coach.

Both the borough assembly and the city council have naming committees that meet when it is deemed appropriate to name a building or facility. Those committee’s hold public meetings to discuss potential names and then pass along their recommendations to the council or the assembly,


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Columns by Dave Kiffer

Historical Feature Stories by Dave Kiffer


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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Dave Kiffer ©2016



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